Stocks Ended Down for Third Day

U.S. stocks closed lower for a third straight session on Wednesday, as a jump in Italian borrowing costs and a tumble in the euro below $1.30 underlined the precarious prospects for the euro zone. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 131.46 points, or 1.10%, to 11,823.48. The S&P 500 lost 13.91 points, or 1.13%, to 1,211.82. The Nasdaq Composite fell 39.96 points, or 1.55%, to 2,539.31.

The euro slumped to its lowest level since January on Wednesday, falling further under $1.30. The euro dropped as low as $1.2943 before recovering a little to $1.2986, down from $1.3026 in late U.S. trading Tuesday.

Gold futures skidded nearly 5% Wednesday, sinking below the $1,600 level for the first time in nearly three months. Gold for February delivery settled down $76.20 an ounce, or 4.6%, to $1,586.90 on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, the lowest settlement for a most-active contract since mid-July.

VeriFone Systems Inc. (PAY) said late Wednesday that its fourth-quarter profit rose to $198.8 million, or $1.84 a share, from $49.4 million or 55 cents a share in the year-ago period. Revenue rose to $410.7 million from $276 million last year.

Tufco Technologies Inc. (TFCO) said Wednesday that higher costs for raw materials and price competition in the fiscal fourth quarter offset higher revenue for the period and improved operations at its Green Bay plant.  For the fourth quarter ending Sept. 30, the company swung to a net loss of $327,000, or 8 cents per share, from net income of $56,000, or 1 cent per share, the year before. Net sales increased 15 percent to $29.1 million from $25.3 million.

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